Naps can be hard to master. Achieving day sleep for your child is potentially one of the biggest sleep challenges that parent’s experience. One of the best places for your child to sleep beyond 6 months of age is in their cot, in a suitable sleep environment. However, this is not always possible and although I would recommend that about 80% of all day sleeps would ideally be cot-based; it is worth having a few ideas to help your baby sleep whilst out and about.
Being able to sleep “on the go” can be temperament based and lots of children won’t get a good quality of sleep in the car or the buggy, but it is certainly better than no sleep at all. Don’t be disappointed if your child just cannot sleep anywhere other than the cot. Many children are too distracted by their surroundings, light and noise and this may prevent them from sleeping altogether, resulting in an overtired child.
Tips for Naps on the go
- Know when your child should be sleeping. That way you can plan your car journey, shopping trip, lunch at your friends to coincide with the time that she will be requiring to go to sleep.
- Darken up the space or block out distractions.
- Have a sleep time routine that you can do before sleep wherever you are. A repertoire of songs, certain key phrases that you say.
- Bring familiar items for sleep with you. Their lovey, the stuffed animal that they sleep with.
Definitely plan to be rolling before the sleep is due. Invest in a cover that will stop your child being stimulated by the activity around them. Make sure they are comfortable and snug and most importantly not too hot or too cold.
At the crèche or childminders
Young children can learn to sleep somewhere else within 3-4 weeks. For ease, they should already have the skills for sleep before you want to make this transition. Then your childcare provider needs to define the sleep space and get them used to it. It is quite common for a young child to sleep far better during the daytime for childcare than for parents. Make sure that your childminder knows how you achieve sleep and at what time and then let your child get used to this.
Missing day sleep
Sometimes, despite best efforts, your child may struggle to sleep under some circumstances on the go. If this is the case, then make sure that you bring your bed time forward and/or ensure that the following day they can sleep longer at home to make up for the missed sleep. Try to get your typical day time routine back on track the next day if you find that is not working that well, then use the feeding and sleeping suggestions in my book, The Baby Sleep Solution. Unfortunately, missing day time or having poor quality sleep can have far reaching consequences within 24-36 hours after the event often resulting in broken sleep and also short day time sleep and thus creating a cycle of over-tiredness which ideally should be avoided.